Monday, August 17, 2015

Thirteen Guests, by J. Jefferson Farjeon

J. Jefferson Farjeon, Thirteen Guests
Poisoned Pen Press (2015; reprint of 1937 edition
British Library Crime Classics
ISBN-13: 978-1464204890

Twelve people have been invited to the country home of Lord Aveling for an October weekend--an actress, a journalist, a painter (who is painting Aveling's daughter), a wealthy sausage manufacturer and his wife and daughter, a widowed femme fatale (F.F.), a genial cricketeer, a member of Parliament whose career is at a crisis point, a mystery novelist, and a mysterious couple whom no one really knows.  The thirteenth guest injured his ankle as he leapt from the train, and was brought to the party by the F.F.  Naturally, things do not go well.  There are various levels of intrigue, but, of course, the crisis is murder--and not one of the guests, but an apparently unknown outsider.  And things don't end there.  This is truly a classic English country house mystery, from the oddly assorted list of guests, to the dependable police inspector, to the quite convoluted solutions.  I've read another of Farjeon's books (Mystery in White, also part of the reprint series), which has many characteristics in common with this one.  However, Thirteen Guests has a more interesting set of characters and a solution that seems more organic and less contrived.  ✩✩✩✩

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